Reading Comprehension Strategy Series: How To Teach Students to Ask Questions When They Read — THE CLASSROOM NOOK (2023)

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Reading Comprehension Strategy Series: How To Teach Students to Ask Questions When They Read — THE CLASSROOM NOOK (1)

Questioning is a reading strategy that is taught to students to help them engage with the text. It helps the reader to clarify what he or she is reading and to better understand the text. Asking good questions is a way for students to monitor their own comprehension while reading.

Struggling readers approach reading as a passive experience. This means that they read the words with the idea that the meaning of the text will reveal itself if they read enough words. However, good readers challenge the text by asking questions as they read. They might ask questions like: Why did they say that? What do they mean by that? I wonder what they were doing there? How did she do that? Why am I reading this? When taught how to ask questions, students learn that they can increase their comprehension.

Reading Comprehension Strategy Series: How To Teach Students to Ask Questions When They Read — THE CLASSROOM NOOK (2)

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🌟Resources for Asking Questions


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(Video) Let's Teach English Unit 4: Reading Skills

Asking questions will provide students with a purpose for reading. As they read, students will seek answers to their questions for deeper meaning of the text. Students can ask questions for a variety of reasons:

  • to clarify meaning (ex. What does that word mean? Why is that happening? What I am learning?)

  • to understand the characters and events better (ex. Why did the character do that? Why did that happen? What would happen if…?)

  • to understand the author’s intent (ex. Why did the author write this?)

  • to make predictions (ex. I wonder if ____ will happen?)

Good readers actively ask questions before, during, and after reading. Before reading, students might ask themselves what the story will be about, what they might learn, or what they already know about the topic. During reading, students pay attention to clues in the text that spark questions. Since each student has different background knowledge, each reader will wonder different things about the text.

While reading, the reader’s questions are constantly evolving. As questions are answered, new questions will arise. Monitoring how these questions evolve will increase comprehension.

It is also important for students to stop and ask questions when something they read does not make sense. They may need to clarify a meaning of a word, or seek to understand a confusing part of the story. These clarifying questions help students to self-monitor their comprehension.

We must also help students to ask relevant and logical questions. The purpose of asking questions is to enhance comprehension, therefore, any question that a student asks should stem from the main ideas of the text and not just loosely related to the topic.

After reading, students evaluate their questions. They ask themselves how their questions were answered and what they have learned from the text. They also may realize that not all of their questions were answered. In these cases, students may be required to infer their own answers based on the text and their background knowledge.

Readers ask different types of questions depending on the genre that they are reading. When reading fiction, students tend to ask questions about the characters and events. While reading nonfiction, students may ask themselves questions about what they are learning, the meaning of new vocabulary words, or what the author is trying to teach them.

Finally, when teaching the questioning strategy, it is important for students to ask different types of questions that will improve their comprehension. This can be referred to as asking “thin” vs “thick” questions. Thin questions are surface-level questions that usually can be answered by looking right in the text. Thick questions, on the other hand, require students to use their own background knowledge to dive deeper. Answers to thick questions can be subject to interpretation. They use evidence from the text, but also draw from the personal experience of the reader. Asking both types of questions will give the reader a well-rounded reading experience.

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As with teaching most things, it is helpful to start with the concrete and move toward the abstract.

A great first activity to use when introducing the questioning strategy is called “What’s In My Bag?”

To use this activity, you will first need to place an ordinary object into a paper bag. This item could be a comb, toothbrush, a pencil, etc. It needs to be something that students would be able to guess.

Show students your bag, but not the item in the bag. Invite students to ask questions about the item in your bag. Encourage students to ask open-ended questions to gather clues (ex. What is the item used for? Where do you use it? Rather than: Is it an apple?) Students will realize that they will get a better understanding of what the object is if they ask these open-ended questions instead of just randomly trying to ask what the object is.

Connect this activity to real reading. When we ask good questions, our thinking about something is refined and changes. Finding answers to our questions often leads to even more questions, which leads to deeper understanding. For example, in the “What In My Bag?” activity, a student would change their next question based on their previous question. In reading, an answer to one of our questions can dictate what our next thought or question might be. Asking questions helps students engage with the text.

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When you move into using this strategy with a book, provide students with prompts that might guide their questions:

  • I wonder…?

  • How come…?

  • Why…?

  • What is…?

You will first want to model using the questioning strategy in a read-aloud. Be sure to choose a book that lends itself to asking questions. Begin by modeling the questions that you have before you read. You may choose to jot these questions down on an anchor chart for students to see. Here’s a sample anchor chart:

Reading Comprehension Strategy Series: How To Teach Students to Ask Questions When They Read — THE CLASSROOM NOOK (3)

These “before” questions may stem from the title, what you already know about the topic or author, or even illustrations found on the cover or in the book itself.

Likewise, model questions that you have during reading (jot them down on the anchor chart). You could also write these questions down on post-it notes and place on the text itself where the question occurred. This will help when you go back to review your questions with the students after reading.

When asking questions, point out in the text what sparked the question, and explain your thinking. Here’s an example:

“When I read __________, it made me wonder why _______ because ____________.”

Explain to students that sometimes while reading, your questions will be answered later on in the book, while others you’ll have to infer the answer based on your own knowledge and the details the author does tell you.

Reading Comprehension Strategy Series: How To Teach Students to Ask Questions When They Read — THE CLASSROOM NOOK (4)

(Video) Complete Lesson: Modeling Close Reading of Short Texts

After reading, review the questions that you had previously asked. These questions can also be listed on the anchor chart. Discuss any answers that you may have found to your questions, as well as inferences you have for unanswered questions. Be sure to also address any lingering questions that you might have after finishing the story.

Once students have had the chance to practice asking questions, help students to go deeper by asking thoughtful and complex questions. This can be done by teaching them the difference between “Thick” and “Thin” questions. The anchor chart on the right may be helpful to teach the distinction between the two.

When modeling the questioning strategy, be sure to indicate whether the question you are asking is thick or thin. Be sure to provide multiple examples of each. If desired, go back to your original anchor chart and have students help you identify which questions were thin and which were thick.

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Of course we want students to be able to ask questions regardless of what book they are reading. However, as students have their first experiences working this this strategy, choose books that lend themselves to asking questions will help students to have a quick win, and easily see this strategy in action.

Books with more obvious opportunities to ask questions will help set students up for success and will train their brains to stop and ask questions while they read AND look for those answers as the continue reading.

Here are some of my favorites: (affiliate links)

Asking questions may seem second nature to us, but young readers benefit from simple reminders to use this reading strategy until it becomes second nature for them as well. Visuals such as bookmark to use while reading, or a classroom poster that is displayed on a reading strategy bulletin board work wonderfully to nudge students to ask questions while reading.

Continue to create anchor charts displaying the questions that you ask during read-alouds. You can even create a class anchor chart where students post their own questions about a book that you are reading together as a class.

Reading Comprehension Strategy Series: How To Teach Students to Ask Questions When They Read — THE CLASSROOM NOOK (7)


(Video) Creating A Reader's Notebook

New to LINKtivities? >> CLICK HERE

If you’ve not yet discovered LINKtivity digital learning guides, then you (AND your students) don’t know what you’re missing! LINKtivities are interactive, engaging, and so fun for learning and practicing new skills like reading strategies.

I created a LINKtivity specifically for teaching students how to ask questions while reading. Check out the video below for a sneak-peek!

Here’s how it works:

In the Asking Questions LINKtivity, students first watch a short animated video clip that quickly catches their attention with fun doodles and images. The clip introduces what the strategy is and how readers use it.

From there they read alongside their “virtual reading buddy” to see the strategy applied to a text. While clicking through the digital book, each time the student comes across a thought bubble, they click on it and are brought to a new slide in the LINKtivity guide to see what their reading buddy is thinking!

Then, to take their learning to the next level, students read 3 additional high-interest reading passages to practice the strategy on their own. In a similar fashion as they did with their reading buddy, students click through the digital storybook and stop to ask questions along the way.


Having students write down their questions is critical in informing you of their understanding of the strategy. From their written questions you can see if their questions are meaningful, relevant, and logical to the story that they are reading. You can also see if they tend to ask the same types of questions (thin vs. thick) and if they are seeking out answers to their questions as they read.

Writing down their questions also keeps them accountable for their learning and gives you an informal assessment.

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Assessment, whether it be formal or informal, drives instruction. For more informal assessments, take notes about a students use of the questioning strategy during reading conferences or in small groups. Considering the following when observing the students’ use of the strategy:

Having a rubric written in kid-friendly language is especially helpful when providing feedback to a student on their ability to ask questions. The rubric can provide clear guidelines on how to ask questions while reading.

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(Video) Differentiation Strategies in Special Education

Want to get your hands on the Asking Questions LINKtivity®?

Join the LINKtivity® Learning Membership and start using this ready-to-go resource for asking questions that includes:

  • a teacher guide

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  • a student-friendly rubric

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How do you teach asking questions reading strategies? ›

How to teach questioning during reading
  1. Encourage students to ask questions before, during, and after reading. ...
  2. Model to students how to ask high-level questions that invite thoughtful answers, that require students to 'draw inferences and think beyond the text'.
29 Oct 2018

What is the questioning strategy for reading comprehension? ›

Questioning during reading can take the form of self-questioning, questioning the text, or questioning the author. It creates a dialogue in the child's mind as he reads. Asking questions after reading the text can stimulate critical analysis and further research on the topic.

What are the 7 strategies in reading comprehension? ›

The seven strategies of highly skilled readers include activating, summarizing, monitoring and clarifying, visualizing and organizing, searching and selecting, questioning, and inferring.

What strategies do teachers use to make classroom questioning effective? ›

Ask as many students as possible before providing the class with the correct answer. After about 1-2 responses without feedback more students will put up their hands. I cycle through as many students as possible, usually about 4-5 students, before providing feedback.

What is the process of asking questions? ›

Four levels of question formation may be isolated and analysed: the actual, but unexpressed, need for information; the conscious within-brain description of the need; the formal statement of the question; and the question as presented to the information system.

What are four 4 types of questioning techniques you can use? ›

The 8 essential questioning techniques you need to know
  • Closed questions (aka the 'Polar' question) ...
  • Open questions. ...
  • Probing questions. ...
  • Leading questions. ...
  • Loaded questions. ...
  • Funnel questions. ...
  • Recall and process questions. ...
  • Rhetorical questions.
23 Oct 2018

What are the 4 types of comprehension questions? ›

8 Types of Comprehension Questions – Latest PSLE format
  • Factual. Such questions focus on obvious details from the passage. ...
  • Inference. These questions require less obvious details than factual questions. ...
  • Sequencing. ...
  • Vocabulary in context. ...
  • Applied vocabulary.

What are effective questioning strategies? ›

Effective Questioning Techniques
  • Prepare your students for extensive questioning. ...
  • Use both pre-planned and emerging questions. ...
  • Use a wide variety of questions. ...
  • Avoid the use of rhetorical questions. ...
  • State questions with precision. ...
  • Pose whole-group questions unless seeking clarification. ...
  • Use appropriate wait time.

What are the 4 strategies that can improve reading comprehension? ›

6 Strategies to Improve Reading Comprehension
  • Have them read aloud. ...
  • Provide books at the right level. ...
  • Reread to build fluency. ...
  • Talk to the teacher. ...
  • Supplement their class reading. ...
  • Talk about what they're reading.
30 Aug 2022

What is the most effective comprehension strategy? ›

Making Inferences

It has been shown that when readers are taught how to make inferences, they improve their abilities to construct meaning. Indeed, research indicates that the ability to make inferences is crucial to successful reading.

What are the 3 best comprehension strategies? ›

What are the three best comprehension strategies?
  • Visualizing.
  • Asking questions and providing information.
  • A Background Knowledge: Activating and Using it.
  • Comprehension Monitoring.
  • Summarizing.
  • Making Inferences.
  • Predicting.

What are the steps in teaching a comprehension strategy? ›

Here are the seven must teach comprehension strategies:
  1. Activating Prior Knowledge.
  2. Making Connections.
  3. Predicting.
  4. Inferring.
  5. Questioning.
  6. Monitoring.
  7. Visualizing.
  8. Summarizing.
21 Jun 2018

What are the six 6 steps in teaching a comprehension strategy? ›

The “Super Six” comprehension strategies
  1. Making Connections.
  2. Predicting.
  3. Questioning.
  4. Monitoring.
  5. Visualising.
  6. Summarising.
13 Nov 2013

What are the 10 reading comprehension strategies? ›

Here are some active reading strategies and tools you can use to bolster your reading for college.
  • Find Your Reading Corner. ...
  • Preview the Text. ...
  • Use Smart Starting Strategies. ...
  • Highlight or Annotate the Text. ...
  • Take Notes on Main Points. ...
  • Write Questions as You Read. ...
  • Look Up Words You Don't Know. ...
  • Make Connections.

What are the 6 key types of reading comprehension questions? ›

There are mainly six different types of reading comprehension questions that are tested in GMAT.
  • Main Idea Question. Main idea questions test your ability to capture the big picture. ...
  • Supporting Idea Question. ...
  • Inference Type Question. ...
  • Applying information to context outside passage. ...
  • Logical Structure. ...
  • Style and Tone.

Is asking questions a teaching strategy? ›

Questioning techniques are a heavily used, and thus widely researched, teaching strategy. Research indicates that asking questions is second only to lecturing. Teachers typically spend anywhere from 35 to 50 percent of their instructional time asking questions.

How do you engage students in questioning? ›

Avoid answering your own question by giving students a few seconds to form a good answer. Engage other students by having them answer the question of one of their peers. It has been shown that students can learn from other students if given the opportunity to do so.

How do you integrate questioning techniques in the classroom? ›

  1. Follow the. rules for. classroom Talk. Listen to others. Add or build on.
  2. their ideas. Never put. others down or. intimidate them. Thinking time.
  3. Actively consider. all ideas, ask new. questions. Test ideas and. subject them to.
  4. scrutiny or. challenge. Weigh the value. of different. ...
  5. the evidence. Respect the. views and. ideas of.

How do you ask questions in the classroom? ›

General Strategies for Asking Questions
  1. When planning questions, keep in mind your course goals. ...
  2. Aim for direct, specific questions. ...
  3. Ask questions throughout your class and ask only one question at a time. ...
  4. Ask open-ended questions.

What are the 3 types of probing questions? ›

4 Types of Probing Questions
  • Clarification. A clarification question requires a simple fact-based response. ...
  • Recommendation. A recommendation probing question involves a certain degree or persuasion. ...
  • Example. An example question is ideally suited for responses that may be vague or confusing. ...
  • Extension.
15 Aug 2015

What are the 7 types of questions? ›

Types of questions
  • Closed questions. ...
  • Open questions. ...
  • Funnel questions. ...
  • Leading questions. ...
  • Recall and process questions. ...
  • Rhetorical questions. ...
  • Divergent questions. ...
  • Probing questions.

What is questioning sequence technique? ›

A questioning sequence involves four phases of questions. The detail and category phases activate students' background knowledge about the instructional goal. Argumentation (making and defending claims) is the focus of the elaboration and evidence phases.

What are the 3 types of comprehension questions? ›

Literal, inferential, and evaluative questions help learners read and think in different ways. To help students monitor their comprehension, it helps to ask questions while you read.

How many types of questions are used in reading comprehension? ›

Based on the comprehension questions from the past PSLE exam papers, we have identified 8 different types of comprehension questions that can be tested. Knowing the different types and the requirements for each of them will allow the student to acquire the marks for them with ease.

What are the two basic types of questions asked on the reading test? ›

Referring questions ask a student about information that is directly stated in the passage(s). Reasoning questions ask a student to draw conclusions from information that is implied in the passage(s). Below you can find more detailed information about each type of question, as well as sample ACT Reading questions.

What are the 5 techniques strategies that can improve the ability to read for meaning and understanding? ›

What are the 5 strategies that can improve the ability to read for meaning?
  • Pace yourself.
  • Don't forget to write a summary of what you read.
  • Improve your vocabulary.
  • Break down reading into smaller sections.
  • Use context clues.
  • Ask questions about the text you are reading.
  • You should look for the main idea.

Which strategy would most likely improve a student's reading comprehension? ›

Which strategy would most likely improve a student's reading comprehension? Leveled questioning is critical for building reading comprehension skills. As students learn to find information within a text, interpret that information, and evaluate it, they will come to a deep understanding of the author's message.

What is the most useful tool for teaching comprehension strategies? ›

  • Reading Bear.
  • Whooo's Reading.
  • MindMeister.
  • Newsela.
  • Rewordify.
  • Rainbow Sentences.
  • Storia.
20 Nov 2015

What is an example of an effective reading strategy? ›


While you are preparing to read a book, another key reading strategy is to have questions in mind. This may require you to briefly skim through the book and ask yourself questions based on what you skimmed. Questions can stem from various sentences or even the titles or headlines that authors use.

What is the best program for reading comprehension? ›

The 15 best online reading programs to help build comprehension
  • Oxford Owl. ...
  • PebbleGo. ...
  • Storynory. ...
  • Vooks. ...
  • Khan Academy. ...
  • Bookshare. ...
  • Funbrain. ...
  • Read Write Think. Powered by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), this online reading program is full of amazing resources that are sure to excite homeschooling parents.
21 Oct 2021

What is the 3 2 1 reading strategy? ›

A 3-2-1 prompt helps students structure their responses to a text, film, or lesson by asking them to describe three takeaways, two questions, and one thing they enjoyed. It provides an easy way for teachers to check for understanding and to gauge students' interest in a topic.

What are the 3 models of reading strategies? ›

There are three models used in reading instruction. They are top-down, bottom-up, and the interactive model.

What are the 6 active reading strategies? ›

  • Six Active Reading Strategies.
  • Visualize Predict.
  • Clarify Connect.
  • Question Evaluate. How will I remember what the strategies are? ...
  • Valerie called Queen Priscilla cute and energetic. What do the active reading strategies mean? ...
  • Visualize: describe the images. ...
  • Clarify: STOP AND PAY ATTENTION. ...
  • Question: ask questions.

What are 5 effective strategies for active readers? ›

7 Effective Tips for Active Reading
  • Identify Unfamiliar Words and Phrases. ...
  • Make Notes, Outlines, or Highlights. ...
  • Learn the Main Idea and Key Concepts. ...
  • Ask Questions–Lots of Them. ...
  • Think Beyond the Text. ...
  • Visualization. ...
  • Write or Present a Book Summary.
29 Jul 2022

What are the three levels of questions you should ask while reading? ›

The Levels of Questions strategy helps students comprehend and interpret a text by requiring them to answer three types of questions about it: factual, inferential, and universal.

What are the examples of comprehension questions? ›

Why do you think that? -When do you think the story takes place? Why do you think that? -What is the problem in this story? -How is the problem solved? -Why do you think the author wrote this story? What did he/she want you to learn?

What are the 5 basic reading strategies? ›

Reading skills are built on five separate components: phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. These components work together to create strong, rich, and reliable reading abilities, but they're often taught separately or in uneven distribution.

What are the 5 reading techniques? ›

The best reading techniques are the SQ3R technique, skimming, scanning, active reading, detailed reading, and structure-proposition-evaluation.

What are the 4 C's in reading? ›

To prepare for this activity, assign the students reading homework, and on your own (using the giant Post-its), draw a four square grid that has the following labels in each square: Make connections, identify changes, raise challenges, and note concepts.

How do children learn through asking questions? ›

Asking children open-ended questions starts a conversation—and builds a relationship—and it even helps develop children's brains. Asking them open-ended questions that help them think about how they want to behave, supports reflection, and increases self-control over time.

How does asking questions help you understand reading? ›

Asking questions before reading helps students access and use their prior knowledge as they construct meaning from a text. Asking questions while reading fosters active engagement with the text, and questioning after reading can be used to check for comprehension and encourage the transfer and application of knowledge.

What is it called when you teach by asking questions? ›

Socratic questioning (or Socratic maieutics) was named after Socrates. He used an educational method that focused on discovering answers by asking questions from his students.

How do you get your child to ask why questions? ›

Get out a piece of paper that says “why?” on one side and “because…” on the other. There is a visual aid in my e-book or make your own. Show it to your child and explain that when you ask a “why” question, he should tell you an answer that starts with “Because”. Then, tell him he should tell you a reason.

Why is it important to ask questions during read aloud? ›

Asking Open-Ended Questions. Give children opportunities during the read aloud to respond to open-ended questions about the book. Children build their comprehension as they talk and think through ideas and listen to their peers.

What are the 4 basic questions a reader asks? ›

The Four Basic Questions a Reader Should Ask
  • What is the book about as a whole? Discover the theme of the book and how the author develops it.
  • What is being said in detail and how? Discover the author's main ideas, assertions, and arguments.
  • Is the book true, in whole or part? ...
  • What is the significance of this book?
25 Mar 2016

What are questioning strategies? ›

The 4 key questioning strategies include: designing higher cognitive questions. developing a sequence of questions. increasing wait time. responding to answers - redirecting, probing, reinforcing.


1. How to Increase Student Participation
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2. Academics with "Lower Functioning" Students- How to Teach Students with Significant Disabilities
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3. Reading is Thinking
(Inspire Me, ASAP)
4. Strategies for Reading Aloud to Young Children
(Teaching Strategies for Early Childhood Education)
5. BookNook Curriculum and Pedagogy
(Texas Education Agency)
6. Can we Afford to Ignore the Science of Reading? | Melissa Hostetter | TEDxUofISpringfield
(TEDx Talks)
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